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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Non-Working Dinner
By Del

Yeah, sure, it was great news. Seven to twelve for Holling, and no need for a trial. No need to spend hours with Alex this evening prepping for her testimony. Great.

"Thanks for letting me know," Olivia said. "Will we see you tomorrow?" Because Munch and Fin and Elliot were all dying to know.

"Well, actually . . . ."

Actually what?

"I was wondering . . . ."

Wondering what? Olivia held her tongue.

"Do you ever think it might be fun to go out and not talk about work?" Alex asked. "Just the two of us? I mean go out to dinner," she added.

"The two of us? I hadn't thought of that." In the last 30 seconds. "Now that you mention it, that sounds fun." Wonderful! Fantastic! Spectacular!

"Hey, Tits!"

Olivia scowled at the piece of shit who was handcuffed to Fin's desk, waiting for the detective and his partner to finish working over his cohort in the interrogation room. She jabbed a finger in his direction, warning him to keep quiet.

"I think we sometimes get so wrapped up in work that we don't talk about other things," Alex went on.

Holy shit.

"Hey, them melons ripe?" the perp yelled over.

Olivia covered the phone with her palm. "Zip it, Nelson," she said.

"Unzip it," he countered from his chair, thrusting his pelvis at her.

"Are you still there, Olivia?"

"Yeah," Olivia said. "I agree with you, Alex; we're overdue for a girls' night out. We should do that." Every night.

Alex's tone softened. "I've been thinking. I feel as though you and I have gotten closer over the past few months, and–"

"Why don't you both do me?"

"Shut your goddamn trap, Asswipe, before I excise that puny excuse for a dick and gag you with it!" Olivia exploded.

After a moment, she remembered who was on the other end of the line. Damn.

"I'm sorry, Alex," she said. "We've got a foul mouth over here."

She glared at him.

"So I gather," the ADA said dryly. "Listen, it sounds as though you're busy–"

"No, not really," Olivia said. "I mean, what do you think about tonight?"

Alex laughed. "We can't even get through a single phone call without work intruding on us," she said.

"That wasn't work," Olivia lied. "I was just, uh, having some fun with Elliot."


"Come on, Alex. It'll be fun. No work for three hours." Don't make me beg, although I will.

"Do you really think that's possible?"

With you wanting to talk about feelings and getting closer? "I guarantee it," Olivia said.

Hanging up the phone, she grabbed up her purse and headed for the doorway, but her partner called out to her, "Hey, where you going? You owe me the chili of my choice, remember?"

No more sure bets after four beers, Olivia reminded herself again. "Rain check?" she asked. "I've got to run home for–" For what? "For . . . `you know,'" she said, correctly assuming that a vague reference to something that might turn out to be feminine hygiene would cut off further public inquiry.

In just over two hours, she was back and ready to catch up on a little paperwork while she waited for zero hour.

Elliot had a cell phone plastered to his ear as he returned from his late lunch. "Thanks," he said into the phone, then spoke to his partner. "That was Warner; she–whoa!"

"What?" Olivia replied defensively.

"You get your hair done?"

"Just a trim." She patted the sides of her head.

"Nice blouse," he said. "You weren't wearing that earlier."

"I spilled something on my shirt."

"Is that lipstick?"

"What did Warner say?"

"She'll have the results in Campbell by tomorrow."

"OK, then. Let's get to work." Before Mr. Observant noticed the earrings and the pressed slacks and just the slightest touch of perfume.

5:30 p.m. "I am officially off duty," Olivia announced.

"Then what say you and me get outta here?" Nelson leered at her, ignoring an irritated Detective Tutuola looming over him.

"Your partner gave you up, Herbie," Fin growled. "You're goin' down."

"On her?"

"On your new cell mate and about a dozen of his friends," Fin said. He bent down to unlock the handcuffs, then stepped back to make room for a clerk to walk past with a carefully balanced tray of coffee mugs.

The perp's hands suddenly shot up, knocking the tray and its contents onto the detective. "Fuck!" Fin exclaimed, instinctively reaching to wipe the hot liquid from his face. A blur of jeans and flannel took off toward the hallway.

"Hey!" Olivia yelled. She flew after Nelson, tackling him from behind. "You all right?" she asked Fin.

"Yeah," he muttered, brushing off the last remants of the beverages.

"Big mistake attacking one of my partners," Olivia said to Nelson. "You didn't get anywhere, and now you've broken your nose."

"No, I haven't."

She grabbed the back of his head and slammed his face against the floor. "Yeah, you have."


"Oh, dear," she said. "That sounds bad. I'd better have a look." She drew his head back, and then--


The unexpected sound caused Olivia's elbow to slip, and Nelson's head dropped to the floor again.


"Shut up!" she whispered. "Hey, Alex. Ready to go?"

"What are you doing?"

"Hm? Oh that," she said casually, as if she made it a point to sit on men periodically. "Just clumsy. Herb here broke my fall. Thanks, Herb," she said, tightening her grip on his hair just enough for him to get the hint.

"Doe pwobleb," he mumbled.

"This is nice."

She meant being together outside of work, Olivia concluded. The detective was pretty sure Alex wasn't referring to the traffic jam they'd been stuck in for the past 15 minutes. "Yeah," she said.

"It's so nice to talk to another woman," Alex continued.

The comment struck Olivia as a little odd. By SVU standards, Alex was virtually awash in women: her secretary, Liz Donnelly, several of her fellow ADAs and judges. For Olivia, it was pretty much Alex. And some 78 percent of their vics, of course.

"Sometimes–" Alex chuckled self-consciously. "This will sound dumb."

An experienced detective knew when she was about to hear something juicy, and Olivia Benson was plenty experienced. "Good," she encouraged the attorney, "it'll make me feel better about the dumb things that I say."

"Sometimes I start to call you even when I don't have any business to talk about."

That voice. Alex Cabot, relaxed, leaning back against the headrest, was nothing short of sensual. Addictive.

"You should," Olivia said. "I could use a break from the testosterone once in a while."

"Well, maybe I'll–"

Whatever Alex might do was drowned out by the obnoxious blare of a horn, sufficiently deafening that it could only have come from the car behind them. Olivia saw the idiot poke his head out of his window and crane his neck, using, apparently, his x-ray vision to see through the cars ahead of him and divine what the holdup was. She resisted the temptation to offer a one-fingered salute for disrupting what was turning into a highly stimulating conversation. Somehow, such crudity didn't seem quite appropriate with the ADA seated there beside her. Instead, she rolled down her window and yelled back at him, "Shut the fuck up, Asshole!"

"Must be some kind of accident," Alex said. "Don't worry; our reservation isn't until seven."

The car immediately in front of them managed to escape into the next lane, and Olivia inched her vehicle forward. Now she could see it: Ford Taurus vs. Honda Civic, both cars driven by young men who were circling the vehicles, examining the damage, now talking it over, and now–oh, fuck–starting to pound the hell out of each other.

Olivia jumped out of her car and ran through the line of motionless vehicles. "NYPD!" she shouted, shoving her badge into the nearest one's face as she squeezed between the two men. "Back off!" She turned her head to give the same warning to the one behind her, just in time to catch his wild swing across the jaw.

The realization that one of them had just struck an officer of the law brought an abrupt halt to the action, and Olivia reached for her cell phone. Damn it!–from the corner of her eye, she could see Alex getting out of the car.

"This is Detective Olivia Benson with the 1-6," she spoke into the phone. "I've got an MVA with bad behavior at–" She rattled off the intersection coordinates. "Please dispatch a unit asap."

"Copy, Benson," the dispatcher replied.

"Myrna, is that you?" Olivia asked, recognizing the voice. "Myrna, you get someone here in 3 minutes and I'll watch the kids for you next Friday," she offered.

"Copy that, Olivia. Be there at 7 o'clock."

"Detective, are you all right?" Oh, no–the ADA voice was back.

"Sure," she replied.

"I thought I saw you get hit after you identified yourself," Alex said. "You have just violated Section 120.05 of the New York penal code, Gentlemen."

"Hit?" Olivia waved it off. "Pfft. Just a couple of guys fooling around while they waited for the cops. I just wanted to be sure the accident had been called in. Not work related, really."

Alex's eyes narrowed.

"In fact, I'm heading back to the car right now," Olivia continued. "Right, guys?" She smiled brightly at the two men until the moment that Alex turned her back, and then put the man who had clocked her into a headlock. "You're lucky I've got a date," she told him. "If you're fighting again when the unis get here, I'm charging both of you with assaulting a police officer. Got that?"

They nodded, and she hurried after Alex.

They were running late. Not late enough to lose their reservation, Olivia hoped. Parking had been worse than she expected, though.

"Why don't I let you out here, Alex?" she suggested as they slowed in front of the restaurant. "I'll have to go a couple of blocks down."

"It's a nice night," the blonde replied. "I don't mind walking."

"I'm a little worried about our reservation," Olivia said. "You go check us in; I'll be right there."

Alex acquiesced, and Olivia watched her friend – could she consider Alex her date? – step out of the vehicle onto the curb, turn back to give a small wave, and stride past the doorman into the restaurant.

Olivia didn't mind the walk, either. It gave her time to think about the woman waiting for her inside. Was this a date? Would it be too much to suggest another get-together when she took Alex home? A post-dinner kiss would be way out of line, of course.

She was overthinking this, Olivia knew, but she let her mind linger on the last thought. Kissing Alex . . .

Thrusting her hands deeper into the pockets of her leather jacket, she waited for the Walk sign.

"And how are you tonight?" a voice to her right asked just as the light changed.

Without sparing a glance at the stranger beside her, Olivia kept moving toward the entrance.

"You like 'em young?"

"Excuse me?" She turned to gawk at him.

"Sweet sixteens," the salesman urged her. "The real thing, too." He drew a hand from beneath his overcoat and fanned out a selection of explicit photographs.

What the fuck? "You're offering me pictures of underage girls?" she asked, incredulous.

"Two-for-one sale, tonight only," he confirmed.

"Do I look like the kind of person who buys pictures of underage girls?"


"Asswipe," she snarled. Grabbing his sleeve, she twisted his arm behind his back. "You're under arrest."

At that moment, an image entered her brain:

Alex, leaning forward in her earnestness, reaching out to lay a hand across Olivia's. "I've wanted to tell you this for some time, but it always seemed that work got in the way. Now that we're alone, Liv, I just want to say that I–"

"Benson? Jordan and Dupree from the 2-2; we're here to pick up your perp. You wanna start the paperwork?"

Her precarious date. The woman of her dreams, waiting for her inside, ready to talk about non-work things, about . . . other . . . things, perhaps.

She slid the photos into her jacket. "Your timing is lousy, Sleaze," she said.

It was easy to pick out the beautiful blonde amidst the patrons in the mostly full restaurant. Olivia flashed her badge to the maitre de. "I need that table near the window." To forestall any protest, she drew him aside and said, "I know you're probably holding it for someone, but this is official business. Surveillance." She pointed at Alex. "That is Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot. Please don't draw attention to us."

Together, they made their way over to the blonde's table, from which the maitre de ventured over to the window to check the other table's readiness.

"Hey, Alex," Olivia said, leaning over the ADA's shoulder. "They're moving us over there."

"Oh, all right." Along with her purse, the attorney gathered up a rounded glass filled to its midpoint with a maroon liquid. Another glass sat across the table, Olivia noticed, and she slid her fingers around the stem to carry it with her.

Hurrying over ahead of Alex, Olivia peeked out the window. "Yeah, this is it," she said. As discreetly as she could, she used her hip to shove the table a few inches forward. Perfect. This offered her -- and not Alex -- an excellent view of one particular area just outside the window.

Speaking of excellent views . . . a smiling blonde approached the table, wine glass in hand.

"Thank you for sharing that with me," Alex said, squeezing Olivia's hand. "I wish I'd known your mother."

"Yeah, me too," Olivia replied sadly. "Do you see yours very often?"

"I try to get upstate every few months," Alex said. "It's hard to get a free weekend."

"True," Olivia agreed. "Not that I ever have much in the way of plans anyway."

"Well, if you ever feel the urge to get out of Dodge, maybe we could–" She cocked an ear. "Did you hear that?"

"No," Olivia said automatically. "Maybe we could . . .?" Was Alex inviting her home to meet the parent?

But the blonde was still distracted. "There's some kind of noise," she said. "Out there."

Now Olivia could hear it. The dumb shit, contrary to her express instructions, was hollering at the top of his lungs, probably trying to elicit sympathy from some passer by. Right. Like that would happen.

"Just the usual," she said, trying to get Alex back on track. "Maybe we could what?"

"Maybe sometime you and I could--Are you sure that's nothing?"

"Sure." In a quick motion, Olivia reached out and slammed her palm against the glass, hard.

Startled, Alex jumped back in her seat. Other diners looked over at them questioningly.

"Sorry," Olivia said. "Thought I saw a spider."

Alex seemed puzzled. "You don't kill spiders."

Damn the woman's memory. "Only when I'm surprised," Olivia said lamely.

"Oh." The ADA smiled. "Well, anyway, we were talking about–there it is again."

Olivia shot to her feet. "I think I'll hit the ladies' room," she declared. "Be right back." Without drawing attention to it, she scrunched up the cloth napkin in her hand, shoving it into her jeans a few steps away from the table. After a glance to be sure Alex wasn't watching, she veered toward the entrance and into the crisp night air.

It took only a few seconds to make good use of the cloth on her annoying perp – "I told you to keep quiet, Scuz" – which left her time to make a brief call. "Elliot?" she said when her partner answered. "You remember that time you blew off your anniversary and I showed up at your place with the gift you'd `forgotten' at work?"

"Whoa," Elliot exclaimed. "You're whipping out The Big One."

"Yeah, well, I need a big one. Listen, you know where Café Molise is?" At his confirmation that he did, she continued, "I'm here with—with someone. I've got a C felony locked up on the east side of the building, and I really don't want to deal with it right now."

"Ahh," Elliot replied. She could see the smirk on his face. "Gonna get some?"

"It's not like that."

A meaningful pause followed, and then, "Glad to hear it." He understood. "Am I gonna meet her?"

"Not tonight. It's not–we're not–not yet."

"Give me half an hour."

It was mesmerizing, the glow on Alex's face. Two glasses of wine (Olivia had switched to water after one, but insisted that her non-driving friend enjoy herself) wasn't enough to intoxicate the lawyer, but she was more relaxed than usual, her face open and friendly. The smile, however, turned to a frown as the attorney's cell phone rang.

"Damn," Alex uttered. "I hope this isn't–"

"Don't jinx it," Olivia said.

What was that outside? Movement. Was it her partner, or was someone fucking with her perp? It better not be the latter; she only had the one pair of cuffs, and they were currently attached to a pole on the other side of some 6 by 8 double-glazing.

"Just a friend," Alex said, checking the caller i.d. She leaned over to tuck the phone back into her purse.

Olivia took the opportunity to peer out the glass. In the same instant, her partner's face popped up in the window, scaring them both. "Shit!" she gasped.

Elliot's eyes widened when they landed on her dinner companion. He quickly ducked out of sight as the ADA straightened back up.

"Liv?" Alex asked, concerned.

"I, uh, dropped a mushroom."

"Oh. Well, you can have one of mine." Alex pierced one of the stuffed vegetables with her fork and held it out to her.

The two women gazed at each other as Olivia closed her lips around it. "Wonderful," she murmured.


This time, the ringing phone belonged to the SVU detective. Elliot, the small screen said. "Benson," she answered.

"Garbage picked up," he said.

"That's great, Elliot. I'm glad you're enjoying yourself."

"Not as much as you are."

"Has something come up?" Alex whispered.

"No, no," Olivia replied. "Elliot just called to tell me that he finished his . . . sheetrocking."

"Sheetrocking?" Elliot repeated. "You're a real partier, Benson."

"Shut up," she said, adding quickly at Alex's surprised expression, "Pal."

"All right, I'm signing off," he said. "But I want the 411, Partner. Big time."

"There's really no–" she began, then nodded. "OK."

"OK." He wasn't teasing her any more. "Good luck, Liv. You deserve it."

Smiling to herself, Olivia hung up the phone.

"Want dessert?" Alex asked, scanning the laminated sheet she had just been handed by the waiter.

She was too stuffed, Olivia decided, and the attorney declined as well. She wasn't much of a dessert eater, her friend confided. One more detail for Olivia to memorize.

They strolled leisurely toward the car, and Olivia didn't say anything when Alex slipped an arm through hers.

"I really enjoyed this," Alex said. "I honestly didn't believe we could pull it off."

"Anything's possible when you've got the right incentive." She hoped she hadn't revealed too much, but Alex's pleased smile was reassuring.

"Well, let's have the right incentive again soon," Alex said. "I need one of these evenings on a regular basis to maintain my sanity."

"Sounds good to me."

"And . . . perhaps one of these times we could make it at my place," Alex said a bit too casually. "If you ever get tired of fine cuisine."

"I'm sure whatever cuisine you offered would be fine."

"Don't speak too soon," Alex laughed. "With my culinary skills, we might end up with takeout."

"And that would be fine."

Squeezing her arm, Alex leaned in a little closer. "I look forward to not working with you, Detective."

"Me, too." This was one of the best nights of her life, Olivia realized. More of these no-work dinners would happen, she vowed. Even if she had to work her ass off to do it.

The End

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